‘Estamos Aquí (We Are Here)’ Opens Sept. 2 in Crisp Museum


museum-yolitzli‘Estamos Aquí (We Are Here)’ opens Sept. 2 in the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus.

The public is invited to view the exhibition beginning Sept. 2 with an opening reception scheduled for 4-8 p.m. An artist’s talk by Fidencio Duran, an award-winning artist from Austin, Texas, will be held at 6 p.m. on Oct. 6. Duran earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Texas. The artist’s talk is sponsored by the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, the Department of Global Culture and Languages, and the Crisp Museum.

The exhibit will remain on display through Oct. 23. Admission is free.

‘Estamos Aquí (We Are Here)’ features contemporary serigraphs by 40 artists who took an opportunity to learn a specialized silkscreen print technique from a collaborative Austin-based residency. Many of the artists are speaking from the Latino/Chicano perspective, and the resulting portfolio of prints expresses their celebrations, sorrows, challenges, popular culture and personal experiences.

“My work transforms personal and community memories into celebrations of culture, history and the beauty in our everyday lives,” said Duran, whose print “Dejo Flores y Canciones (Flowers and Songs Left Behind)” will be featured in the Southeast exhibit. “My work is a form of cultural assertion by depicting aspects of my family’s history as tenant farmers in central Texas from the 1920s to 1960s. With this narrative approach, I also produce public murals portraying the cultural, economic and political history of communities, neighborhoods, regions and sites.”

Featuring vivid colors and sometimes startling imagery, the works in “Estamos Aquí (We Are Here)” encourage audiences to ask questions about the nature of cross-cultural exchange and discover how artists find their voices through personal stories and experiences that become part of the artistic process.

“Drawing with graphite, I develop the idea using linear perspective to set a location and lighting for the narratives,” said Duran. “Layering of opaque and translucent acrylics results in vivid fluid arrangements that evoke a sense of nostalgia for the past. They espouse the value of living in close relation to the earth, the strength of family and community.”

A complex assemblage of ethnicity, cultural heritage and languages represents the American story, connected by many strands that speak to universal themes. The subject matter in “Estamos Aquí (We Are Here)” is as diverse as its creators, and it celebrates ideas like identity and sense of place.

Alec Dempster’s work, “Maiz Moderno,” is a statement on the cultural understanding that can come from the sharing of food. Artist Sandra Fernandez encapsulates the spirit of being a Latina mother and daughter within the context of society and the “new codes” she has learned by living in the United States.

The visual language drawn from varied traditions — including family and religious symbols, political motifs, the Mexican Luche Libre matches, neighborhood (barrio) themes, and Mexican graphic traditions — enlivens the aesthetic dialogue of the exhibition, which will be accompanied by fully bilingual gallery text and artist statements.

Selected from a larger portfolio housed at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the works featured in “Estamos Aquí (We Are Here)” originate from The Serie Project. Since 1993, Chicano painter and printmaker Sam Coronado of Coronado Studios has lent the use of his workspace and equipment for an artist-in-residence program where underrepresented artists learn serigraphy. The residency represents artists from differing ethnic and professional backgrounds, but is known for fostering contemporary printmaking within the Mexican-American and Latino community.

The exhibition, curated by Brad Cushman of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock,  is organized and toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. The Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, has provided financial assistance for this exhibition.

The Crisp Museum is located in the Cultural Arts Center at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus, located at 518 S. Fountain St. in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 1-4 p.m. on weekends and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the first Friday of the month. For more information, call (573) 651-2260 or email museum@semo.edu.